Added by Mike Goldstein on March 31, 2017
In my ongoing effort to support album cover art fans wherever they may be, it’s been my recent pleasure to introduce you to the writing talents of Andrew Dineley, the Liverpool, UK-based proprietor of the SoftOctopus Design studio and regular contributor of album art-and-artist-related articles to the popular Classic Pop magazine and web site. As hard as I try to locate and promote the talents of people working in the album cover art space, I know that, due to my being located in middle-America, USA, I’m not always able to discover work done by people working for clients in other countries, so it was with great joy that I received Andrew’s friend request and link to a video he recently put together that showcases some of his latest contributions to the magazine – https://vimeo.com/205032038 and, if you’d like to see more of his own commercial work, check out his firm’s web site at http://www.softoctopus.co.uk/
Andrew was also kind enough to share some excerpts from a feature on the talented French design team of Pierre et Gilles he wrote and published recently in issue #28 of the U.K.’s Classic Pop magazine. Partners in work and in life for over 40 years, the duo has collaborated – and partied hard with – celebrities and those looking to the pair to create memorable images that might launch them into celebrityhood. Along the way, they’ve used their talents in painting (Gilles Blanchard) and photography (Pierre Commoy) to produce unique covers for records by artists including Erasure, The Creatures and Marilyn Manson as well as French acts such as Mathmatiques Moderne and Amanda Lear, so I hope that you enjoy this tidbit and will turn to the magazine soon for the full meal.
Excerpted from the “PIERRE ET GILLES – POP ART” feature by Andrew Dineley for CLASSIC POP: ISSUE 28 – MARCH 15th, 2017
Erasure is a band that has worked with the great and good of the design world, some of whom have been showcased previously in this magazine’s Pop Art features. From their beginnings in 1986, they’ve allowed a wide range of sleeve designers free rein, spawning a hugely diverse, yet consistently high quality range of cover designs. In 1989, they were one of the first mainstream pop acts outside of France to work with Pierre et Gilles. Unusually, the front cover sleeve of their massively successful album, Wild! eschewed any of Pierre et Gilles’ portraiture. It is only on the inside that we see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, in military garb, photographed amid a wild storm of shrubbery and leaves – each one, meticulously glued in place . An explosive close-up of the leaves is featured on the front cover of the album while the wild theme is explored further on the sleeves of the hit single Drama! which featured close up shots of colour saturated flowers.
This floral treatment was something that Deee-lite also experienced when they commissioned Pierre et Gilles to transform them for the sleeve of their 1991 single Good Beat. The New York trio started their career being portrayed on their record sleeves as cartoons, (see Classic Pop Issue 11) so seeing them rendered as kitsch synthetic flowers seemed like a natural evolution.
It was around this time that Marc Almond also began an enduring creative friendship with Pierre et Gilles. In his 1999 autobiography Tainted Life which also featured a cover image by Pierre et Gilles, Almond provided some detail on how they ended up working together – beginning with the video and cover image for his single, ‘A Lover Spurned’ .
“I flew to Paris for the photo session for the sleeve. The session was to take place at their studio and workshop. The walls of the place were adorned in brightly coloured art and photo-montages of pop stars, Indian film stars, trashy pictures and postcards, and assorted memorabilia from their worldly travels. I fell in love with them both, just as I did with their ever-present assistant, Tomah, and it was to be the start of a very special friendship.”
In an era where we are regularly bombarded with digitally created images, where Photoshop is the norm and even the everyday selfie is rarely uploaded without a few quick filter fixes – it’s refreshing that Pierre et Gilles’ creative techniques remain as hands-on and analog as they ever were. As true artisans, they proudly still use traditional photography, all of their props and backdrops are real, no green screens are used and all the retouching is done with paints – mainly acrylics, and brushes.
If you want to see the work of Pierre et Gilles close up, an exhibition celebrating 40 years of their work is on display at Musée D’Ixelles in Brussels, Belgium from February 16th through May 14th, 2017. To learn more about this show and to read a capsule of another interview with the two artists, follow the link to the Museum’s English-language page on the topic – http://www.museumofixelles.irisnet.be/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/pierre-gilles-clair-obscur
You can read the entire article when you pick up the latest issue of this magazine at your favorite UK news-stand or, for those of us outside of the area, via this link to their page on the iTunes store – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/classic-pop-magazine/id571002388?mt=8
Andrew has promised to keep me in the loop with regards to any new interviews and features he’s produced, so keep an eye out for my notifications – there will surely be a lot for us to read as time goes on.
Portions of this text are Copyright 2017 Andrew Dineley and Classic Pop magazine – all rights reserved – and are used by permission. All other text is Copyright 2017 Mike Goldstein/AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All rights reserved